DALLAS - When we label this a "crazy James Harden rumor,'' you the reader are welcome to interpret the adjective as you wish.
One, the rumor is "crazy.''
Two, James Harden is ... well, a little off.
We've made the point in this space before that the Dallas Mavericks have assembled for themselves an impressive array of weapons. ... and that now, through no doing of their own, they’ve got another at their disposal in the person of the selfish James Harden, who is doing everything he can to cause an implosion of a Mavs rival and a pseudo contender in the Houston Rockets.
Harden - a remarkably gifted player whose aggressive on-court creativity has literally reinvented the way offensive basketball is played - is also remarkably greedy in his behavior. That selfishness has long manifested itself in him making demands on the Rockets organization regarding with whom he wants to play. (The recent report that the Rockets "give James anything he wants'' is really not so much a "revelation'' as it is a "confirmation of the obvious.'')
And now? He wants to play somewhere outside of Houston.
And along comes the "crazy'' rumor-mongering that would land “The Beard” moving from being aligned with strip clubs to being the "first star'' in a lineup with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis.
From "Scoop B,'' the assertion regarding Harden's future employers:
"Scoop B'' actually reports that Dallas has engaged in trade discussions with Houston regarding its oddball star.
We'll say this: Every team is obligated to do its due diligence here. But ... nah. In fact, our friend Marc Stein of the New York Times has a league source who echoes our "nah.''
Writes Stein: "One league source on the Mavericks' reported trade interest in James Harden: "No chance.''
And there are logical reasons for this.
Doncic is a magnetic symbol of unselfishness in Dallas; Harden is the exact opposite of that.
Doncic admits he showed up for camp in less-than-optimal shape; Harden, in his on-court appearance this week after finally, reluctantly, showing up for camp ... is so "dad-bod'' that he appears to have swallowed Doncic whole.
Harden’s own mother, Monja, has maybe unwittingly exposed the truth here, saying James is "giving 210 percent ... every time he suited up for his job'' (but Mom, him not "suiting up'' is the problem!) and saying he wants to "get a ring” (just not one in Houston!).
Monja's social media quote: "He is doing what is best for his career. Please pay attention and understand. He has worked hard every time he suited up for his job, giving 210 percent. He asked for a chance to get a ring, that’s it. Anyone in their right mind… would want that.''
The Harden family is asking the NBA world to "pay attention'' to James? That's rich. There is no shortage of attention here, nor is there a shortage of compensation; He is after all scheduled to make $132 million over the next three years in Houston ... and yet it is somehow not enough.
The Rockets' error in roster-building here is a devaluation of "culture'' - which happens to be Mavericks priority No. 1. So, no, James Harden in a Dallas uniform never seemed likely to us ... and is now in "no chance'' territory. It's going to have to be enough that James Harden is ruining a Mavs rival while fitting ever-so-tightly in his Houston Rockets uniform. ... for the short time he agrees to keep wearing it.